- Papua New Guinea in mourning from cities to rural villages - February 27, 2021
- Obituary: Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare - February 26, 2021
- Where will Sir Michael Somare be laid to rest? - February 26, 2021
The New Ireland Government was pleased that St Barbara’s Simberi Gold Mine will focus on improving the lives of the people of the Tabar Group of Islands through developing the agriculture sector and its drive to create market access for the locals.
The comments were made after General Manager Jason Robertson gave a presentation on the current mine operations to the Provincial Executive Council and New Ireland Administration on Tuesday 3rd November at the New Ireland house of assembly.
Mr Robertson said while the aim of the mine is to ensure it makes a profit for its shareholders, it equally wants to ensure the community is also benefiting.
“I want to make sure that one day when the mine cease operations, Simberi and the Tabar group is in a better place for St. Barbara having been there.“ .
He said St. Barbara seeks to engage local companies in providing services and supplies to the mine, and the company has 30 contracts with landowner companies providing Simberi mine services.
The contracts range from K5,000 to K100,000 per month with overall total investment of K 1.75 million a month.
Currently the mine is heavily involving locals in Cocoa Rehabilitation and Planting, with one plantation already boasting up to 7,000 seedlings ready for distribution to local farmers for cultivation.
To make it even more interesting and potentially profitable, the mine has engaged the services of Paradise Foods to develop a chocolate bar specifically made from Tabar cocoa.
“ Our vision is that one day there will be enough critical mass of cocoa production for a boat to come in every couple of weeks. We are trying to create a sustainable future,” Robertson said.
In terms of Gold production, the GM said the current increase in Gold prices has allowed the mine to go back and mine material that was not economic before.
He noted that the mine is currently investigating a transition from the processing of oxide ore to the processing of sulphide ore, but that the latter posses problems as it will require a new mining process and plant.
He said a major concern of the company right now is that the proposed amendments to the Mining Act will introduce additional costs that might make the processing of sulphide ore more expensive, and therefore unprofitable.
Of particular concern to the St Barbara board is the proposed introduction of mine waste levy.
“We have worked to make our current waste disposal process completely environmentally friendly,” he said.
“But if too many additional costs are introduced we would have to finish mining the remaining oxide ore and then shut the mine down.”
St Barbara is currently investing UD$150 million in PNG, and they need to have some assurance their project will be able to survive.
New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan conveyed that his government had a very strong view about the amendments to the Mining Act.
He made it clear that his concern was to work for the benefit of the people and to ensure they have a better life after the mine than they had before the mine.
“Now is the time to have this discussion,” he said, “because we do not want to experience another Porgera situation in New Ireland.”
He said open and constructive dialogue should begin now between St Barbara and the New Ireland Government in relation to benefit sharing.
The New Ireland Government has repeatedly proposed that ownership be returned to the people.
Mining companies must make a reasonable return comparable to international profit margins, ‘when the company makes a profit, our people profit.’
Mining companies should become contractors earning international and competitive margins of return. “The people must have greater benefits. T
he New Ireland Government, Landowners and Local Level Governments have unanimously agreed some four years ago on the position in regard to the review of the MOA, which the National Government has continuously breached.
Everyone can come out better from the revised MOA as provided in the original agreement.”
Both parties agreed they need to have a more regular dialogue to discuss issues of mutual importance.
Among these are the proposed changes to the mining law, the work on the current feasibility study on sulphide mining, the ongoing Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, amendments to the current Mining Lease, and the introduction of the Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme, which to date has not come from the Simberi Mine.
New Ireland Media Unit